WHO / Blink Media – Ehtiram Jabi
More than 50% of global funds pledged and received to date have come from governments within the WHO European Region as well as from the European Union (EU).
WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge said, “The solidarity shown by many of our Member States is providing life-saving equipment, medicines and technical support to countries as our Region continues to battle COVID-19. Leaving no one behind in health is a fundamental part of the European Programme of Work, and I thank these governments for their generous donations.”
Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan
Earlier this year, WHO launched the SPRP to support the fight against COVID-19. It initially focused on the public health component of the response, including rapidly establishing and maintaining international coordination to support countries in planning, financing and implementing their responses.
Since then, the SPRP has been continually updated, taking into account the development of the pandemic. It has supported country preparedness, and now includes a separate focus on maintaining essential health services and systems during the pandemic.
In addition, some of the funds donated and pledged are earmarked for improving the resilience of health systems in countries across the Region. WHO and partners will give special attention to and assess the burden on local health systems in low-capacity and humanitarian settings.
Over US$ 609 million (€512.8 million) has come from donations and pledges from governments within the EU, including more than US$ 395 million (€294.7 million) from Germany alone. As part of this sum, the EU itself has pledged and donated nearly $148 million (€124.6 million) to WHO, including more than €30 million to help its Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine) respond to and recover from the impact of COVID-19 and strengthen their capacity to respond to public health emergencies.
Nearly US$ 140 million (€117.9 million) has been donated and pledged by non-EU governments within the WHO European Region, including Azerbaijan, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Serbia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
WHO/Europe’s recently released publication “COVID-19: operationalization of the global response strategy in the WHO European Region” outlines its strategy for responding to the pandemic as part of WHO’s global COVID-19 strategy update. The document highlights initial lessons learned, and is relevant to the diverse contexts of the Region as well as to countries implementing a wide range of national and subnational responses.
WHO is providing, and will continue to provide, substantial technical and operational support to all countries, working with governments and partners to save lives, maintain and strengthen health systems, and minimize the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic.
Impact on the ground
Through the EU-funded Solidarity for Health initiative, WHO has delivered and helped distribute essential personal protective equipment to keep health workers and patients safe. Tests and laboratory equipment to increase countries’ capacity to detect COVID-19 have been delivered alongside medical supplies such as oxygen concentrators, pulse oximeters and ventilators to help patients recover from COVID-19 in the 6 Eastern Partnership countries. Approximately 10 million units of critical items have been delivered so far, with an estimated 2.5 million more to come.
The funds have also helped train health workers and responders in detecting and treating affected patients, improving virus tracking and reporting, communicating risks, engaging communities, and guiding the public on measures to take to avoid infection and prevent the spread of COVID-19. In the longer term, the funds will help build strong and resilient health systems.
WHO/Europe has continued to provide support to each country in the Region throughout the pandemic. WHO experts have participated in over 100 missions since February to join with health authorities on the ground in all core areas of the response. Medical supplies, protective equipment and test kits have been consistently delivered to support the work of hospitals and health-care workers.
The donation figures for this article were provided on 28 August 2020.